The Henderson County Sheriff’s Department has a new community liaison outreach coordinator.
Stephanie Barbosa officially joined the department last month to help build trust within the Latinx and immigrant community. There has been fallout, partially due to the sheriff’s decision to renew a voluntary agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Barbosa brings experience working with immigrants on legal matters as a victim witness coordinator for the District Attorney’s office. She also has lived experience -- growing up undocumented in Henderson County. Her parents came from Mexico to work jobs in factories and in construction.
“I didn’t have my legal status here growing up. Wasn’t until later on when I got married that I was able to apply for my residency, my citizenship,” Barbosa said. “So I understand where people are coming from, the struggles -- not being able to drive in high school like everybody else.”
Barbosa says one of her biggest concerns is for the children of immigrant parents, who fear losing family members to deportation.
Latinos make up the fastest growing minority in North Carolina. Police departments in Durham and Chapel Hill have similarly added community liaisions in recent years to strengthen relations with the community.